Case studies / NBA

NBA boosts app engagement by providing custom experience for fans

Quick facts:
  • The NBA is a globally recognizable brand, since its founding over 50 years ago. Games are broadcast in 215 countries and territories, with over 320 million fans across the globe as of November 2015.
  • The NBA app is the official app for the NBA and allows fans to view headlines, game scores, standings, highlights and set up custom push notifications.
  • The NBA Finals were one of the most tweeted sporting events of 2015.

Relevant products: Collections


The NBA is a brand with worldwide recognition dating back to its founding over 50 years ago. The way the game of basketball has been played has changed over years, but the NBA has consistently proven its appeal with fans and players alike. As technology has changed the way consumers interact with brands, the league designed the NBA app as a way to connect with fans off the court.

With thirty teams and millions of fans around the globe, the NBA had to find a way to provide customized in-app content, delivered in real-time. And with so many different types of content, in the form of text, photos and videos, finding a cohesive way to share custom content, depending on a user’s location, was a real challenge that could’ve taken months of development time. Previous versions of the app did not provide granular customization and did not allow them to properly showcase all relevant content in a meaningful way. With the newest version, they wanted to ensure a unique and compelling experience for every app user.


With so many different types of content to share, including videos, photos, links and text, the NBA chose to partner with Twitter to connect with their fans and enhance their app’s experience. Since many NBA players already on Twitter and given the live, real-time nature of the product, the Twitter platform was a logical place for the NBA to increase their presence. They chose to use Collections to display tweets in the app through a customized timeline and Twitter Kit to render the tweets. Due to the ease of implementation and customer support, the NBA didn’t have to create an expensive solution that could have taken months to build.

“As a league, we invest a lot of time and resources into creating content on Twitter but the ability to marry it with other types of content on social is key.” notes Chris Benyarko, VP of Digital Products and Emerging Technology for the NBA.

Twitter’s real-time nature is a major benefit to the league which is looking to capture reactions to games and live commentary. During a game, the NBA app creates a live game experience using Collections. They will display a Collection within the app that includes tweets from sports reporters covering the game, as well as the NBA Twitter handle (@NBA) and all associated NBA handles. The enables fans to stay up to date and interact with the game, and NBA brand, in real-time which is something they were not able to find on other platforms.

“From a team and player standpoint, we’re creating a lot of content and voicing opinions about what’s going on with games. Twitter is the only platform that is really live and real-time. It’s where are the players are at,” Benyarko mentions.

With so many teams, the NBA also has to keep track of not overwhelming fans with content that’s not relevant to their interests. Collections shows users a set of tweets on the home screen, customized to their team preferences. Combined with other content that the NBA chooses to share, Twitter gives the NBA app a unique, real-time experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

“We are able to build on our mobile platform and deploy to multiple teams at once, resulting in a great experience that fans can access regardless of their favorite team,” notes Michael Allen, Senior Vice President, Digital Products & Emerging Technology.

The NBA also employed Twitter Kit, which lets users reply to, retweet and favorite tweets seen on the home screen, so they can interact with the biggest stars in the league. Twitter Kit blends seamlessly into the app, preserving the brand experience and keeping users engaged with rich and highly relevant content.

Twitter enables us to engage directly with our fans – some of the most passionate in all of sports – and to connect with new ones.

Michael Allen, Sr. VP of Digital Products & Emerging Technology, NBA


Using Twitter’s suite of development tools, the NBA was able to reduce development time from weeks to days, and enable faster innovations as they continue to scale the NBA app.

Thanks to Twitter’s real-time nature, the NBA is able to interact with fans live, and create an excellent brand experience. Through the curation of live content and improving fan engagement with Twitter Kit and Collections, the NBA has succeeded in their goal of interacting with fans off the court.

As Allen explains, “Twitter enables us to engage directly with our fans – some of the most passionate in all of sports – and to connect with new ones.”

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